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Through the Baltics to Greece Autumn 2017 PDF Printable Version E-mail


Through the Baltic Republics to Greece: Autumn 2017

Motorhoming from Finland through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria to  Greece

Margaret Williamson

(continued from: A Journey to Scandinavia in the Summer of 2017)


Introduction

After travelling in Spain and Portugal in the winter of 2016/17, we returned to England in the spring via France, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Much of June and into July passed in the East and West Ridings of Yorkshire, before we were able to recommence travelling and the writing of this travel log.

During the remainder of the summer, we motorhomed in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. The Tallink ferry
Star took 2 hours to sail the 50 Baltic miles from Helsinki to Tallinn for the beginning of our long journey south through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria, keeping to the east all the way until we reached Greece in early November.

Settling for a while at our favourite campsite of Ionion Beach (first visited in 1995), we will catch up with cleaning and writing of every kind - including the completion of this travel log. 

2017_20.jpg 

OCTOBER 2017

At the end of our motorhome tour of Scandinavia, we spent the last night on a Finnish campsite (the finish!) near Lahti, 60 miles north of Helsinki

Lahti to Tallink-Silja Ferry Terminal, West Harbour, Helsinki – 79 miles (sea level!)

The harbour is poorly signed 'Vδstra Hamnen'. The terminal check-in is at N 60.148626  E 24.913754. Timetable and Bookings on www.tallinksilja.com/en/web/int/tallink-shuttle-tallinn-tips

FERRY FROM FINLAND TO ESTONIA

Note that:

1.  Estonia is an EU member; currency is the Euro (currently €1.13 = £1).

2.  Estonia is in the same time zone as Finland (2 hrs ahead of the UK).

3.  There are no motorway or road tolls.

4.  Dipped headlights are compulsory at all times (even in summer).

5.  Tallink-Silja Line shuttle between Helsinki (West Harbour/Vδstra Hamnen) and Tallinn takes 2 hours, crossing several times a day, on 2 large modern ferries: 'Star' and 'Superstar': www.tallinksilja.com. Alternatives, with fewer crossings, are Eckerφ (www.eckero.fi) or Viking Lines (www.vikinglines.co.uk).

IN ESTONIA

Tallinn Ferry Port to Lahemaa Kohvikann Restaurant & Camping, Palmse, Lahemaa National Park, Estonia – 50 miles

Camping open 15 Apr-15 Oct. www.kohvikann.ee  €15 inc 16 amp elec, new WC/showers, free WiFi. Excellent restaurant/cafι (open all year, noon-9 pm, closed Mondays). N 59.506783  E 25.9608949

Palmse to Saka Cliff Hotel & Camping, Saka Manor, Ida-Viru County – 54 miles 

Camping open 1 May-31 Oct. www.saka.ee/en/camping-caravan/  €15 inc elec, hot showers, free WiFi. No kitchen.  N 59.438889  E 27.191667

Saka to Kure Turismitalu Guesthouse & Camperstop, Tartu, Tartu County – 97 miles

Open all year. www.kuretalu.ee/index.php?Lang=eng  Overnight parking €18 inc elec, WC, good free WiFi. Shower €2. No kitchen. Laundry wash & dry €8.  N 58.40606  E 26.61278

INTO LATVIA

Note that:

1.  Latvia is an EU member and the currency is now the Euro (currently €1.12 = £1).

2.  Latvia is in the same time zone as Finland/Estonia (2 hrs ahead of the UK).

3.  There are no motorway or road tolls for vehicles up to 3.5 tons. Since July 2014, drivers of vehicles over 3.5 tons and designed to carry goods by road need to buy an electronic vignette. This applies to commercial vehicles and not to motorhomes. www.lvvignette.eu/

4.  Dipped headlights are compulsory at all times (even in summer).

5.  Diesel currently costs €1.094 (under £1) per litre.

IN LATVIA

Tartu, Estonia to Caravanpark/Camperstop Rukisi, Rugaji, Latgale, Latvia – 143 miles

Open all year. www.rugaji.lv/pages/rukisi.html  Overnight parking €15 inc elec, WC. No hot water to shower in low season. No kitchen. No internet.  N 56.991235  E 27.130193

INTO LITHUANIA

Note that:

1.  Lithuania is an EU member and the currency is now the Euro (currently €1.11 = £1).

2.  Lithuania is in the same time zone as Finland/Estonia/Latvia (2 hrs ahead of the UK).

3.  There are no motorway or road tolls for vehicles up to 3.5 tons. The vignette for vehicles over 3.5 tons applies only to buses, coaches and trucks – not motorhomes.

4.  Dipped headlights are compulsory at all times (even in summer).

5.  Diesel currently costs €1.049 (under £1) per litre.

IN LITHUANIA

Rugaji, Latvia to Camping Degesa, Salakas, NE Lithuania – 131 miles

Open all year. www.degesa.lt  Overnight parking €10 inc elec, WC, hot shower. No kitchen. No internet.  N 55.572298  E 26.156058

INTO POLAND

Note that

1.   Poland is an EU member and the currency is the Zloty (PLN). Current exchange rate is approx 5 PLN=£1, or 4 PLN=€1. Some businesses accept cash in Euros, some don't, but card payment is widely available. 

2.   Poland is in the Central European Time zone (so 1 hr ahead of the UK). Put clocks back an hour if arriving from Lithuania.

3.   Vehicles up to 3.5 tons pay tolls at toll booths along some major roads and motorways (in Euros, Zloty or by bank card). For vehicles over 3.5 tons, including motorhomes or car+caravan above this weight, there is an electronic ViaToll system (similar to Austria's 'Go Box'). See www.tolls.eu/poland

4.   Dipped headlights are compulsory at all times (even in summer).

5.    Diesel costs around 4.5 PLN (under £1) a litre.

Salakas, Lithuania to Zajazd 'Private' Camping, Suwalki, Poland – 190 miles

Fully open 1 May-30 Oct (Parking + elec only off-season, without water.) www.private.firmy.suwalki.pl  PLN 60 inc elec and WC/shower. Good free internet. Fill of water PLN 10; chemical toilet emptying PLN 5, even for campers!  N 54.092994  E 22.937053

Suwalki to Camping U-Michala, Bialowieza National Park – 140 miles

Fully open 1 May-1 Oct (Parking + elec only off-season, without water.)  Bialowieza Forest  PLN 60 inc elec and WC/shower. No internet.  N 52.69395  E 23.83088

Bialowieza to Hotel & Camping Wodnik, Firlej – 133 miles

Open Easter-31 Oct & over Christmas/New Year. www.wodnikfirlej.pl  PLN 50 inc elec, WC/shower in hotel. Free WiFi throughout. No kitchen.  N 51.54852  E 22.51523

Firlej via Sobibor to Karczma (= Inn) u Jedrka, Wlodawa – 85 miles

Open all year 9 am-9 pm. Jedrka  Free overnight parking at Inn. Good restaurant (see Trip Advisor). WC inside. No internet. N 51.55582  E 23.52687

Wlodawa to Camping Duet, Zamosc – 67 miles

Open all year. Camp Duet  PLN 74 inc elec and very basic facilities. No kitchen. Good free WiFi.  N 50.71919  E 23.23908

Zamosc via Belzec to 'Centre of Remembrance & Reconciliation' at Brzeznica, Nr Debica – 145 miles

Open all year (Centre closed Mondays). www.ecpip.pl  Free car park at Pustkow Forced Labour Camp/Mount of Death.  N 50.10015  E 21.51941

Brzeznica to Camping Harenda, Zakopane – 141 miles (alt 750 m/2,500 ft)

Open all year www.harenda.tatrynet.pl  PLN 74 inc elec, WC/shower and tourist tax. Free (unreliable) WiFi. No kitchen.  N 49.324128  E 19.984686

INTO SLOVAKIA

Note that

1. Slovakia is an EU member and the currency is the Euro, currently €1.12 = £1.  

2. Slovakia is in the Central European Time zone (so 1 hr ahead of the UK).

3. Vehicles up to 3.5 tons need to register for an e-vignette only if driving on motorways (road numbers beginning D) and expressways (road numbers beginning R). Buy it at major border crossings or petrol stations - the minimum (10 days) cost €10 in 2017 and was well worth it! For vehicles over 3.5 tons, including motorhomes, there is an electronic toll collection system (as in Austria and Poland). Good luck with that! See www.tolls.eu/slovakia and www.highwaymaps.eu/slovakia

4. Dipped headlights are compulsory at all times (even in summer).

5. Diesel costs about €1.12 a litre (around £1).

Zakopane, Poland to Camping Podlesok, Slovensky Raj National Park, Hrabusice, Slovakia – 69 miles (alt 535 m/1,765 ft)

Officially open 1 Apr-31 Oct (but closed and barred when arrived on 25 Oct). Parked overnight free of charge by the side gate.  www.podlesok.sk  Free WiFi.  N 48.96444  E 20.38500

Hrabusice to Aqua Maria Motel & Camping, Velaty – 100 miles (alt 165 m/555 ft)

Open all year (camping seasonal). www.penzionaquamaria.sk  Suite for two (with bathroom, fridge, kettle, TV) €59 total including choice of breakfast. Free WiFi. One hour free use of Wellness Centre! Good restaurant.  N 48.504974  E 21.653311

INTO HUNGARY

Note that

1.  Hungary is an EU member and the currency is the Forint (HUF). Current exchange rate is approx 350 HUF=£1 or 310 HUF=€1. Some businesses accept cash in Euros, some do not, but card payment is widely available.  

2.  Hungary is in the Central European Time zone (so 1 hr ahead of the UK).

3.  All vehicles need a vignette (matricia) to drive on motorways and expressways. Buy it at petrol stations near the border; payment taken in cash (HUF or Euros) or by card. There is no windscreen sticker; the vehicle registration number and nationality are recorded onto a computer at point of sale. The minimum (10 days) cost 5,950 HUF (c €20) for vans and campers up to 3.5 tons. Vehicles weighing between 3.5 and 5 tons (classed as a Bus) cost more, and over 5 tons (Big Bus!) even more. See www.tolls.eu/hungary and www.highwaymaps.eu/hungary  

4.  Dipped headlights are compulsory at all times (even in summer).

5.  Diesel costs about 370 HUF a litre (just over £1).

Velaty, Slovakia to Thermal Camping, Hajduszoboszlo, Hungary – 136 miles

Open all year. www.hungarospa.hu/en  7,290 HUF (or €24) inc 12-amp elec, hot showers, cooking facilities and free WiFi. Good laundry. Free entry to indoor swimming pool and medicinal bath. N 47.45756  E 21.39396

INTO ROMANIA

Note that

1.  Romania is an EU member and the currency is the Romanian Lei (RON). Current exchange rate is approx 5 RON=£1 or 4.5 RON=€1. Some businesses accept cash in Euros, some do not, but card payment is widely available.  

2.  Romania is in the Eastern European Time zone (so 2 hrs ahead of the UK and 1 hr ahead of Hungary).

3.  All vehicles need a vignette to drive on any Romanian road. Buy one at petrol stations or kiosks at the border; payment taken in cash (RON or Euros). There is no windscreen sticker; the vehicle registration number and nationality are recorded onto a computer at point of sale. The minimum (7 days) cost €5 (other options are one month or one year). Vehicles up to 7.5 tons cost more. See www.highwaymaps.eu/romania.  

4.  Dipped headlights are compulsory at all times (even in summer).

5.  Diesel costs about 5.66 RON a litre (just over £1).

Hajduszoboszlo, Hungary to Denta, Romania – 201 miles

Open all year. Free parking by children's playground in village, 9 miles before Serbian border at Moravita. N 45.357921  E 21.248659

INTO SERBIA

Note that

1.  Serbia is not an EU member and the currency is the Serbian Dinar (RSD). Current exchange rate is approx. 135 RSD=£1 or 120 RSD=€1. Euros or card payments are generally accepted.

2.  Serbia is in the Central European Time zone (so 1 hr ahead of the UK and 1 hr behind Romania or Bulgaria).  

3.  British-registered vehicles are now fully covered by their own insurance in Serbia: just show insurance certificate papers at border.

4.  There is no vignette to buy but there are regular small tolls on the motorways, payable in Euros or local currency. Carry plenty of small change.

5.   Dipped headlights are compulsory at all times (even in summer).

6.   Diesel costs about 158 RSD a litre (over £1).

7.  The Cyrillic alphabet is used on older road signs though most now have the name in Latin script, which is becoming more common throughout the country.

Denta, Romania to Istanbul Restaurant/TIR Parking, Aleksinac, Serbia – 182 miles

Open all year. €5 overnight guarded parking with WC. Free WiFi only inside the excellent Turkish restaurant. Access from E761 (Belgrade to Nis toll motorway) southbound.  N 43.528885  E 21.707637

INTO BULGARIA

Note that:

1.  Bulgaria is an EU member and the currency is the Bulgarian Lev (Lv). Current exchange rate is approx 2.2 Lv=£1 or 2 Lv=€1. Some businesses accept cash in Euros or payment by card, some do not. In particular, the small entry charge for places like museums, swimming pools, ancient sites etc will require local currency.

2.  Bulgaria is in the Eastern European Time zone, like Romania and Greece (so 2 hrs ahead of the UK).

3.  All vehicles need a vignette to drive in Bulgaria on any roads. Buy the simple windscreen sticker at kiosks or petrol stations near the border; payment taken in cash (Lv or Euros) or by card. The fee is €8 for the minimum (7 days) or €15 for a month, for vehicles up to 3.5 tons. Those weighing 3.5 to 12 tons can pay €11 for a one-day vignette, or €27 (week) or €54 (month). See www.tolls.eu/bulgaria and www.highwaymaps.eu/bulgaria

4.  Dipped headlights are compulsory at all times (even in summer).

5.  Diesel costs about 2 Lv a litre (under £1).

6.  Bulgaria uses the Cyrillic script (as in Russia), though major road signs will also show place names in the Latin alphabet.

(to be continued)